• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The DeLay Scandal Isn’t a Partisan Issue

Albany, New York

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas is currently taking heat for his association with Jack Abramoff, a notorious DC lobbyist who is accused of bilking millions out of his Native American clients. Currently Abramoff is under investigation by the Justice Department as well as the Senate Indian Affairs Committee for the work his lobbying gang did for seven different Indian tribes between 2000 and 2004.

Trouble is Rep. DeLay isn’t the only Washington politician who has a sordid history with Mr. Abramoff. According to federal disclosure reports, Montana Senator Conrad Burns has received over $150,000 from the tribes during the period Abramoff’s cartel was representing their gaming interests.

Not surprisingly, Burns’ opposition in the Big Sky country is blushing with excitement. The Democrats are accusing the long-time Senator of violating ethics rules when he used his influence to help get the Saginaw Chippewas, an Indian tribe from Michigan, a fat $3 million grant for a school construction project in 2003.

Senator Burns is currently the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Interior subcommittee, which oversees all federal funding to Native American tribes.

“Burns carried Jack Abramoff’s water on a very important bill,” Brad Martin, the executive director of the Montana Democratic Party told the Great Falls Tribune. “Montanans have a right to know.”

Despite Martin’s complaint, the committee has yet to announce whether they will take up his call to investigate Senator Burns.

To add more spice to the ordeal, after Congress awarded the grant to the Saginaw Chipewas, Burns’ former chief of staff, William Brooke, went to work for Abramoff’s profitable lobbying group.

Of course Burns’ spokesperson James Pendleton claims his virtuous boss was not influenced by the Saginaw Chippewas’ $36,000 donation.

Pendleton claims money doesn’t buy policy. Yeah right.

Liberals in Montana are hoping to prove that Burns was indeed influenced by the contributions. They’d love nothing more than to evict the right-wing Republican from of his plush DC office. And it seems they’ll pounce on anything that helps to make the case for his ejection.

Despite what the Democrats claim, however, the Abramoff saga is not a partisan issue — it is just one page in a much larger volume of dirty Washington tales and campaign sleaze.

The Montana Democrat’s grumbling about Burns comes at a favorable time as well. The Senator is up for reelection in 2006. But truth is, the Dems are slinging mud at a selective target, while they ignore the fact that Burns’ Montana rival, Democratic Senator Max Baucus, also scored $7,000 from the casino tribes while Abramoff was serving as their lobbyist.

Senator Baucus has not been accused of lending any favors to the tribes. But it isn’t just Baucus and Burns that the tribes have showered with gifts. While clients of Abramoff, the tribes donated well over $3 million to more than a dozen candidates of both political parties. The tribes collective hope? Protect their lucrative gambling interests.

Funny thing is, Indian gambling has long been a Democratic, not a Republican project. In 1990, according to FEC records, the Democrats received 100% of the contributions made in the interest of Indian gaming. By 2000, of the $4.3 million donated to both parties, the Democrats received 79% of those funds. In the 2004 election cycle the Democrats pocketed $4.7 million compared to the Republicans $2.3 million.

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, which is at the heart of the DeLay probe, gave the Democrats hundreds of thousands of dollars over the period Abramoff was serving as their voice in Washington.

Between 2000 and 2001, while Abramoff was still on the tribes pay roll, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians gave the Democrats $95,000 in soft cash. That was 44% of their total soft money contributions to federal candidates that year.

It is clear that influence peddling in Washington is not a partisan issue. And even though Abramoff is a powerful Republican lobbyist, he has few qualms with his clients paying off politicians of either party. For example, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, which was represented by Abramoff in 2000, gave 72% of their total contributions to Democrats that same year. And the list goes on.

So before DeLay’s adversaries break down his office doors, and haul the scoundrel off to the guillotine — the Democrats better take a long hard look at their own relationship with Mr. Abramoff — as the Republicans weren’t the only ones to benefit from his misdeeds.

JOSHUA FRANK is the author of the forthcoming book, Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, to be published by Common Courage Press. You can pre-order a copy at discounted rate at www.BrickBurner.org. Josh can be reached at: Joshua@BrickBurner.org.

 

More articles by:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
Arshad Khan
The Turkish Gambit
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Rare Wildflower vs. Mining Company
Dianne Woodward
Race Against Time (and For Palestinians)
Norman Ball
Wall Street Sees the Light of Domestic Reindustrialization
Ramzy Baroud
The Last Lifeline: The Real Reason Behind Abbas’ Call for Elections
Binoy Kampmark
African Swine Fever Does Its Worst
Nicky Reid
Screwing Over the Kurds: An All-American Pastime
Louis Proyect
“Our Boys”: a Brutally Honest Film About the Consequences of the Occupation
Coco Das
#OUTNOW
Cesar Chelala
Donald Trump vs. William Shakespeare
Ron Jacobs
Calling the Kettle White: Ishmael Reed Unbound
Stephen Cooper
Scientist vs. Cooper: The Interview, Round 3 
Susan Block
How “Hustlers” Hustles Us
Charles R. Larson
Review: Elif Shafak’s “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”
David Yearsley
Sunset Songs
October 17, 2019
Steve Early
The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail